Last month, while recounting the sudden and unprecedented end to the college basketball season sparked by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado coach Tad Boyle recounted how, even as his team returned to Boulder following the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament, he believed there would come a day when his team could gather for a year-end celebration.
That day finally arrived, sort of, on Wednesday, as the Buffaloes gathered via a Zoom teleconference to hand out the team awards for a 2019-20 season that ended with a 21-11 record, though it was capped by a disappointing season-ending five-game losing streak.
The night belonged to junior guard McKinley Wright IV, who won his third consecutive Chauncey Billups MVP Award. Wright, a first team All-Pac-12 selection for the second consecutive year, led the Buffs in scoring with 14.4 points per game. Wright also led the Buffs in assists (5.0) and ranked third in rebounds (5.7).
“I’m not talking about his numbers in terms of points or shooting or assists. I’m just talking as a player, as a leader, I thought he was a guy that was well-deserving of getting that award,” Boyle said. “That award is voted on by his teammates. It’s not voted on by his coaches. To me, those are the awards that mean the most.”
Boyle instituted the team awards when he arrived 10 seasons ago, and Wright becomes the second player, after Josh Scott, to win the Chauncey Billups MVP Award three times. The other winners have included Derrick White (2016-17), Spencer Dinwiddie (2012-13), Carlon Brown (2011-12), and Alec Burks (2010-11).
Among the other awards voted upon by the team, NBA draft-bound junior Tyler Bey, the Pac-12 Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, landed CU’s Defensive Player of the Year honor as well for the third consecutive year. Bey joins former Buffs forward Wesley Gordon, a four-time winner, as the only players to win the honor at least three times.
Sophomore guard Eli Parquet won the Most Improved Player Award, spending last offseason tweaking the form of his jump shot that led to an improvement in his field goal percentage from .238 as a freshman to .385 this past season. Forward Evan Battey won the Most Inspirational Player Award for the second consecutive season. Alex Strating also was a repeat honoree, winning his second consecutive Tebo Family PASS Award, given to the player that “best exemplified the virtues of perseverance, attitude, selflessness, and success.
Two statistically-based honors also were handed out, with Wright winning his third straight Jay Humphries Assist Award as the team leader in assists. Wright now owns three of the top eight single-season assist totals in program history after recording 159 assists this past season (eighth all-time), 167 last year (tied for sixth), and 175 as a freshman (second). Wright ended the season ranked second all-time at CU with 501 assists, and though he is testing his NBA draft status through the league’s pre-draft routine, if Wright returns for his senior season as expected he is certain to surpass Humphries (562) as the program’s all-time assists leader.
Bey won his second consecutive Stephane Pelle Award as the Buffs’ top rebounder after averaging a Pac-12-best 9.0 per game. Bey, who opted to forgo his senior season to enter the draft, finished his three-year CU career ranked eighth all-time with 800 rebounds. Bey is the fourth multiple-year winner of the Pelle Award, following George King (2016-17, 2017-18), Scott (2013-14, 2015-16), and Andre Roberson (2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13).